From my experience, the more you challenge, inspire and motivate young people to work in the service of others, the more it builds their self-confidence and self-esteem and the more they can harness their own potential.

Premier, Professor Symons, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before anybody drops this wonderful medal pn their toe, I want to say that I feel tremendously honoured and flattered that you should have awarded me with this year's Symons Medal.

Professor Symons himself is such a remarkable individual that anybody who is awarded this medal has a great deal to live up to.

I have been lucky enough to know Tom Symons for around 40 years and he never looks a day older - it must be because he smoked a pipe most of his life!

Anyway Tom, I am deeply touched that you should have even have considered such a thing after all these years that we've known each other particularly when he and I used to meet regularly when I was the President to the United World Colleges for 14 years. As you know there is a splendid college in Canada called the Pearson college and Tom Symons was much involved in that and I think between us I think we managed to expand the role a little bit and now I hope all that investment in young people education on a very broad and rounded basis is paying off in terms of the difference which those young people who are now getting older are now making around the world.

And of course to receive it in a building that is such a living monument to the Fathers of Confederation does make it very special indeed.

I am sure that you will agree that the world faces huge challenges, but has enormous opportunities.  Youth unemployment, the widening gap between rich and poor, the constant struggle to advance human rights and democracy, the need to open the doors of opportunity for women and young girls around the world, the impact we can expect from Climate Change, the dangers of over-fishing, of deforestation and the rapid urbanization of the world’s equally rapidly expanding population - these are all issues that challenge us.  But as I have seen so often during my visits to Canada, we can overcome challenges when we bring together the drive and creativity of people willing to learn and to work together and to act. 

You are very generous in recognizing the contribution I have tried to make to the well-being of Canadians.  The truth is, I have never been able just to sit back and ignore problems.  I like to try and find ways to solve them!  That is why it is so important we all see how critical the connections are between these challenges and our future wellbeing. 

Vous avez généreusement reconnu mes efforts pour contribuer au bien-être des Canadiens et Canadiennes. En toute vérité, je n'ai jamais pu rester en place et ignorer les problèmes. J'aime chercher des solutions aux difficultés. Voilà pourquoi il est de la première importance que nous soyons tous conscients des liens critiques qui existent entre les enjeux d'aujourd'hui et notre bien-être de demain. 

They all rest on the nexus of water, energy and food security and finding common purpose in meeting our common needs.  These are environmental, economic and social issues all tied together.  In other words, the health of Nature’s life-support systems which are now under such threat - has a direct bearing upon the health and well-being of people.

I have long tried to draw attention to this connection, but it has come into even sharper focus now that I am a grandfather.  It is all our grandchildren who will have to live with the very serious consequences of us believing today that we can simply carry on with “business as usual”, as if nothing has changed. 

I have just come from a very lively debate by members of a Youth Parliament who took over the Provincial Legislative Chamber legitimately, of course!  They had plenty of interesting ideas delivered with passion and conviction.  After listening to the debate, I am sure that Canada’s future [- and indeed it's contributions to the world -] are in capable and willing hands...  

Needless to say, there is so much creativity, determination and conviction amongst young people just waiting to be tapped, and it is this kind of “social capital” that I have, in my own way, sought to release so it can be put to good use.

From my experience, the more you challenge, inspire and motivate young people to work in the service of others, the more it builds their self-confidence and self-esteem and the more they can harness their own potential.  It has moved me deeply on all of my visits to this wonderful country to see the work of so many remarkable youth organizations dedicated to transforming lives in this way.  It is my great hope that even more can be done to encourage young people to volunteer.  Au cours de mes nombreuses visites dans ce magnifique pays, j'ai été souvent très ému de voir le travail de tant d'organismes de jeunes déterminés à transformer des vies. Je suis convaincu que nous pouvons en faire encore davantage pour encourager les jeunes à faire du bénévolat.    

In this connection I should perhaps mention that I have recently become patron of the uniquely Canadian organization, Earth Rangers, and I am much looking forward to meeting some of their young activists when I visit Bonshaw Park later today. 

Prince's Operation Entrepreneur and other business-based initiatives facilitated by my Prince's Charities Canada have given me an insight into the philanthropy present in Canada's business community.  It is my hope that more and more businesses will come to recognize just what a difference they can make when they engage with the communities they serve.  Several decades of hard-won experience have taught me that there are huge benefits when you bring responsible business together with the untapped ability of socially disadvantaged young people.  Additionally, when you design and create urban environments that include rather than exclude such people in the mix of housing, businesses and services that form integrated, walkable urban communities, we all benefit.  Equally, we can surely adopt a more sustainable approach to the way we farm and produce our food.   

Ladies and gentlemen, in 1992 on Canada’s 125th anniversary, Her Majesty The Queen delivered a Canada Day address on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.  I remember her words vividly:  “You have inherited a country which is uniquely worth preserving and I call on you all to cherish this inheritance and protect it with all your strength.”  

I have every confidence that Canadians took her words to heart.  As we approach the 150th anniversary of confederation, I hope with all my heart that Canadians of today will become even more mindful of the well-being of all our grandchildren and the Canadians of tomorrow.  

Thank you for this very special award.  May I just finish by saying how marvellous it is to be here in Charlottetown a city so determined to celebrate its wonderful heritage as it faces the future that it received my Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership back in 2005.  What is more, the Mayor is today very tactfully flying the flag which came with my prize on that occasion!  

My darling wife and I are looking forward to the rest of our time here on Prince Edward Island which will even include a visit to Cornwall, so, as Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, we couldn’t feel more at home!  It is a wonderful corner of Canada and I can only thank you for making our visit here this week so very special.